• Managing EC Class: not a piece of cake but the result is sweet



    The successful English class is often a noisy and active place (Mario Herrera)

    Teaching children is not at all easy. In fact, some EC teachers frequently deal with constant struggles to handle students well so that learning can take place. For teachers who are having problems with classroom management, there are ways of taking back control and maintain order in your classroom again. There are methods to cope with a few troublemakers and approaches to dealing with an entire class which is out of control. First you need to assess why you're having classroom management issues.

    Let's take a look at why EC students can behave uncontrollably. Does the teacher appear strict and unfriendly? Are the children bored? Are they tired of sitting in their chair? Do some of the children have behavioral issues such as ADD or ADHD or a minor form of autism? Some children might find learning English difficult so they end up misbehaving rather than admitting they do not understand. Perhaps they have not been praised enough and feel the teacher doesn't like them.


    The most effective way to gain control of the EC classroom is to be the boss. If you don't step up and take control the students most certainly will. There's a line between being friendly and kind and letting the children take control of the classroom. You really can be both the friendly helper and the boss. Ideally, you must take control of the class from the very first day you teach them. Unfortunately, many teachers don't realize this right away and are shocked that they've lost control of the class.

    When I joined a workshop for EC teachers presented by David Kaye in LBPP LIA Yogya a year ago, there were some techniques that EC teachers can apply in the very first day of teaching EC class. Here are some useful techniques David suggested:

    ·         Set rules and create a contract with the students. Every rule set must be agreed by both the teacher and the students and must be written on a form of poster and displayed in the classroom. Involving students in setting the rules can make the students more aware of the rules and consequently more consistent in abiding by the rules.

    ·         Use a disciplinary system. There many ways to do it. One of the very effective ways is by visualizing reward and punishment board. You can choose the leader of the class in each session to watch over his/her classmates’ behaviors and take note of the misbehave students.
    ·         Use attention getter signals. To get students’ attention you can use attention-getter signal either using tools or your body language. You can use a whistle or simply move your arms up and down to attract students’ attention.

    But the most important key to EC classroom management is of course your attitude toward the students. Students who respect and love their teacher will tend to behave well in the classroom. Here's how to make that happen.

    Ø  Be a role-model for a good behavior
    Do you want to be friends with your students? Be their fun and cool mentor. Teach by example not only how to speak English but how to behave in general. In class you should behave as a role-model for ideal classroom behavior. The students will at least have the example to follow. If you cannot control your temper, why should they?

    Ø  Be fair and consistent
    Earn trust by being fair, consistent and firm. Establish rules from the very first day and do not bend. Lean more toward being overly strict in the beginning as it is harder to become strict if you've started out being lenient. If rules change on a day to day basis the students don't know what to expect and cannot trust you.

    Ø  Be composed and trustworthy
    There are teachers out there who put their students down in a futile effort to feel important. When people put others down they are trying to elevate their own self-esteem. This systematically backfires as putting others down truly undermines ones sense of self-worth. This could lead to an even worse behavior. Never belittle your students. Avoid losing control and yelling. Never call a student names, put them down, use sarcasm or embarrass them. They will never trust this kind of behavior.

    Ø  Show them you care
    Take the time to ask questions about their lives. If you can talk with them, informally, outside of the classroom, such as walking from one class to another, you'll find an opportunity to get to know them. Your students will feel special if you take the time out to find out about them and who they are. It will be much harder for someone you've had a conversation with, on a personal level, to act up in the classroom.

    Eye contact will help let your students know you are paying attention to them. Think about how they may be feeling. They might not want to take this class but have to. Put yourself in their shoes and try to come up with positive ways to see your students.

    Ø  Move around
    Come out from behind your desk! Take the time during a writing assignment to walk through the desks and stop for a moment or two at each student's desk. This is a good time to hand out praise and to ask your students how they are doing. Ask them if they have any questions about the work they are doing.

    Ø  Praise and encourage
    Generously hand out praise and encouragement! Imagine how much good you can do in a person's life by giving them encouragement and praise. You can change a student's whole way of thinking about themselves and in turn, this changes how they view the world.

    Think about how people are always telling kids what NOT to do. Some parents' entire dialogue with their children is negative. Don't fall into this trap. Remember, what you give out, you get back. Children who are given negatives often give negatives back. Children who are given positives will likely give back positives!

    Reward good behavior. Ask for children who behave well to be your helper and thank them for their good behavior in front of the class. Having a student of the week will reinforce good behavior.

    Ø  Vary your lesson plans
    Vary the way you carry out lesson plans. Don't always use the same technique. If you use varied activities, games and teaching methods, that appeal to different learning styles, chances are you'll reach each one of them in time!

    By using these tips, you'll keep order of your class, your students will respect and trust you, you'll have an impact on their self-esteem and you'll teach them much more than just how to speak English. So, teaching EC is not at all a piece of cake but if you do it with all your heart it will eventually taste sweet.
    Written By MS. DN Santi
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